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Sunday, 30 September 2012

Love-locked

After a bumpy ten hour train ride, George and I awoke to the announcement that we had made it to Prague. Looking out the window, I questioned whether Prague was as beautiful as I had been told. Rain bucketed down and frankly, I was half inclined to stay on the train and continue to Budapest. 

After 'man-ing up', I left the comfort of my carriage and George and I quickly worked out how to get to our hostel. We caught a tram and in only minutes, we arrived at 'The Madhouse' - our home for the next three days. 

As soon as we arrived, the sun came out and I got to have my first real glimpse of Prague or 'Praha' to the locals.








One thing I really noticed about Prague, apart from its beauty, was the incredible food it had on offer for as little as a pound. Compared to Krakow, the food in Prague was, for want of a better word- 'delightful'. There were street vendors around every corner, and I think it is safe to say that George and I were in food heaven.
























































Prague literally took my breath away. I could have stayed there forever. The town was small, 'picture perfect' and extremely rich in culture. Every street had its own story to tell and being the tourist I am, I could not wait to hear it. 

The communist legacy of Prague and the Czech Republic was ever present and bits and bops of its scars remained.  George and I managed to find a 'free walking tour' of Prague which turned out to be a hidden gem as we were guided around Prague (at a mile a minute) and given a full lesson on its history. I would certainly recommend doing a walking tour, particularly one that takes you up to the Castle and over Charles Bridge. Look for the lady in green in the centre of Prague.... 
























































Getting ready...






Sorted!









Even looking back at these photos, I am astounded by the beauty of Prague. Trust me when I say, I am no photographer, and even I managed to capture I think, the true essence of this ethereal city.

One aspect of Prague that I truly appreciated during my travels, was the creativity and music that the city oozed. Graffiti art was imprinted all over Prague, only adding to its rich sense of culture. Music flowed through the streets.  It was inspiring. 







One part of Prague that will always stay with me was the 'love lock' bridge.  'Love lock' is a concept that originated in China, however has since popped up in all four corners of Europe. 

The symbolism behind the locks- everlasting love. Prague's love locks can be found along the canal near the Charles Bridge in Mala Strana. Lovers fix their locks on fences or gates, throw away the key in a romantic gesture of their love, locked together through all eternity. As you walk along the canal and see the thousands of locks, you cannot help but get swept away in the motion of young couples, bound together, standing on that canal professing their undying love and cementing their bond by fixing their lock to the steel bars and throwing their key into the water, the unknown. Yes yes yes, I know- I am a soppy romantic and perhaps a bit of an idealist. But as I walked along that canal, I could only imagine the thousands of stories behind the locks and found myself believing that each lock represented a couple, that even now, are hopelessly in love. 

Maybe one day, If I am lucky, I will get to go back there, with my own lock and love. 









After wandering around the streets of Prague, riding high on love, George and I stopped off for some local cuisine and a beer. We dared to eat the ghoulash, which I have to say, was delish. 











The beer also turned out to be quite pleasing, however once again, I will leave it to your imagination as to where the night went....





All in all, Prague was absolutely fantastic.  I cannot tell you enough how much all of you must go. It is for the foodie, the historian, the romantic, the artist and of course the musician.  The only thing I ask, is that if you do decide to go... take me too x 

Friday, 28 September 2012

Crack-whore








Visiting Poland has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I have always been interested in the rich history surrounding Poland, particularly during the World War Two era, and I have always felt that Poland had a certain mystic, that made it an intriguing and alluring location- at least to me.





















I could not have been more thrilled when George mentioned Poland as one of our destinations. A month later, I was packing my carry on bag and setting the alarm for 2.30 am to make the infamous 6 am, 30 pound flight. At 5 45 am, running to Gate 44, I briefly wondered if perhaps paying an extra 20 pounds for a 10 am flight would have been a better idea after all. Regardless, we made the flight with seconds to spare and bid London farewell for the next wee while.


It is a peculiar feeling when you land into a different country with little knowledge of what it will be like. As we hit the runway of Krakow and looked out our windows, it struck me how quiet and eeree Krakow looked. To be honest, landing in Krakow reminded me of New Zealand- you literally land into a paddock of grass on what looks like a worn road. 


As I took my first breath of Polish air, I felt excited, but nervous that Krakow would not live up to my expectations. Luckily for me, it ended up exceeding them.


Georgina and I chose to stay at a hostel called Greg and Tom's Party House. If you have been to Krakow, then I am sure you will have heard about it and its wild ways. In considering you, my readers, I will spare you from the drunken shenanighans that occurred at Greg and Toms, I am sure you can imagine what the outcome of shots of vodka on two hours sleep will do to a person. 











Before vodka...




During vodka..






Heading out on the town!




But never fear, unlike the typical Australian tourist, Georgina and I were determined to make the most of our time in Krakow and did what we do best. Got lost. We literally spent a day walking around the magical city, stopping for the occasional snack and drink. 


One big touristy thing that I wanted to do was visit Aushwitz Camp.  As a history geek student, I have always been interested in World War Two and specifically the Nazi regime. Looking back, I almost think that I loved learning about World War Two because I really could not quite believe what I read or was told, regarding the camps and the Jews. Even as a University Student, studying genocide and the Nuremberg Trials, my mind protected me from really connecting the dots and accepting that these events occurred only a life time ago. Not hundreds of years ago where, perhaps it would be easier to deal with, but in my grandparent's life time. 68 years ago. 


















































Aushwitz was a reality check. It was interesting, heart breaking and bone chilling all at the same time. I won't say anymore. I don't need to. Nothing I can write will be able to accurately reflect what it is truly like. I'm sure each person who visits has a different experience and connection. I would certainly recommend it. I think it is important to do such things so that you do actually realise that these events in history actually happened.  

Krakow has a lot to offer as a city and each street is like a picture from a children's book.  The culture is encapsulating, and somehow, I'm not even sure how, you manage to communicate with people who do not speak a word of English, through a series of hand gestures.  The food is cheap, the city beautiful and the people welcoming. 


Krakow gets a big thumbs up from this girl.


After bidding Krakow farewell, it was time to hop on a night train to begin our ten hour journey to Prague... that in itself was its own wee adventure...
















Thursday, 27 September 2012

Dreamer...






It is official. I am a 'Londoner' now. I have been in London for over six months .  No longer can I get away with my paper back tube map- it is time to embrace my new status as a local.

It's funny, or maybe it isn't, but the more I invest in London, the more I have truly truly begun to love it. As summer is coming to an end, I am secretly looking forward to the London winter- hot cups of coffee in bed, snuggling up in my warm flat and sinking my teeth into a good book. And who can forget Christmas. Yes, yes I know, it is ages away. But I don't know, the idea of snow at Christmas- well quite frankly it is magical. I feel like a child again just thinking about it.  

But enough about London. I have harped on about it in previous blogs, and even though I am in the mood to deliver another sentimental treasure, I must firstly tell you about my most recent adventure. Do you remember Georgina? For those loyal  readers out there (dad, I am looking at you) Georgina was one of the members of Team America and the person that I travelled with throughout the U. S of A. After a whirlwind of emails, telephone calls and attempted skype dates, Georgina decided to come and visit me in London and then do a bit of Europe on the side. Me, being the eager beaver that I am, jumped on the opportunity to see Georgina and of course to see a bit more of Europe. Our agenda was as follows: San Sebastian, Krakow and Prague.  

























View of San Sebastian


I am not going to talk, or rather write too much about San Sebastian, simply because, in my mind, it cannot be compared to Krakow and Prague. Don't get me wrong- it is beautiful, warm and cheap, but for me, there was no real connection. Not like Krakow. Not like Prague. In all honesty, George and I spent the majority of our time in San Sebastian catching up, soaking up the sun and of course eating. If anyone wants tips on accommodation or food advice, then you know the drill. Comment, email and I'll let you know. But for right now,  I need to begin writing about Krakow and Prague before the feelings and the memories fade away...